Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Potsdam. Some of these were historical pieces, but the majority were representations of Scriptural incidents. Begas was also celebrated as a portrait-painter, and supplied to the royal gallery a long series of portraits of eminent Prussian men of letters. At his death he held the post of court painter at Berlin. His son Oskar (1828-1883) was also a painter and professor of painting at Berlin. Reinhold, the sculptor, is noticed below.

BEGAS, REINHOLD (1831-  ), German sculptor, younger son of Karl Begas, the painter, was born at Berlin on the 15th of July 1831. He received his early education (1846-1851) in the ateliers of C. D. Rauch and L. Wichmann. During a period of study in Italy, from 1856 to 1858, he was influenced by Böcklin and Lenbach in the direction of a naturalistic style in sculpture. This tendency was marked in the group “Borussia,” executed for the façade of the exchange in Berlin, which first brought him into general notice. In 1861 he was appointed professor at the art school at Weimar, but retained the appointment only a few months. That he was chosen, after competition, to execute the statue of Schiller for the Gendarmen Markt in Berlin, was a high tribute to the fame he had already acquired; and the result, one of the finest statues in the German metropolis, entirely justified his selection. Since the year 1870, Begas has entirely dominated the plastic art in Prussia, but especially in Berlin. Among his chief works during this period are the colossal statue of Borussia for the Hall of Glory; the Neptune fountain in bronze on the Schlossplatz; the statue of Alexander von Humboldt, all in Berlin; the sarcophagus of the emperor Frederick III. in the mausoleum of the Friedenskirche at Potsdam; and, lastly, the national monument to the emperor William (see Berlin), the statue of Bismarck before the Reichstag building, and several of the statues in the Siegesallee. He was also entrusted with the execution of the sarcophagus of the empress Frederick.

See A. G. Meyer, “Reinhold Begas” in Künstler-Monographien, ed. H. Knackfuss, Heft xx. (Bielefeld, 1897; new ed., 1901).

BEGGAR, one who begs, particularly one who gains his living by asking the charitable contributions of others. The word, with the verbal form “to beg,” in Middle English beggen, is of obscure history. The words appear first in English in the 13th century, and were early connected with “bag,” with reference to the receptacle for alms carried by the beggars. The most probable derivation of the word, and that now generally accepted, is that it is a corruption of the name of the lay communities known as Beguines and Beghards, which, shortly after their establishment, followed the friars in the practice of mendicancy (see Beguines). It has been suggested, however, that the origin of “beg” and “beggars” is to be found in a rare Old English word, bedecian, of the same meaning, which is apparently connected with the Gothic bidjan, cf. German betteln; but between the occurrence of bedecian at the end of the 9th century and the appearance of “beggar” and “beg” in the 13th, there is a blank, and no explanation can be given of the great change in form. For the English law relating to begging and its history, see Charity, Poor Law and Vagrancy.

BEGGAR-MY-NEIGHBOUR, a simple card-game. An ordinary pack is divided equally between two players, and the cards are held with the backs upwards. The first player lays down his top card face up, and the opponent plays his top card on it, and this goes on alternately as long as no court-card appears; but if either player turns up a court-card, his opponent has to play four ordinary cards to an ace, three to a king, two to a queen, one to a knave, and when he has done so the other player takes all the cards on the table and places them under his pack; if, however, in the course of this playing to a court-card, another court-card turns up, the adversary has in turn to play to this, and as long as neither has played a full number of ordinary cards to any court-card the trick continues. The player who gets all the cards into his hand is the winner.

BEGONIA (named from M. Begon, a French patron of botany), a large genus (natural order, Begoniaceae) of succulent herbs or undershrubs, with about three hundred and fifty species in tropical moist climates, especially South America and India. About one hundred and fifty species are known in cultivation, and innumerable varieties and hybrid forms. Many are tuberous. The flowers are usually showy and large, white, rose, scarlet or yellow in colour; they are unisexual, the male containing numerous stamens, the female having a large inferior ovary and two to four branched or twisted stigmas. The fruit is a winged capsule containing numerous minute seeds. The leaves, which are often large and variegated, are unequal-sided.

Cuttings from flowering begonias root freely in sandy soil, if placed in heat at any season when moderately firm; as soon as rooted, they should be potted singly into 3-in. pots, in sandy loam mixed with leaf-mould and sand. They should be stopped to keep them bushy, placed in a light situation, and thinly shaded in the middle of very bright days. In a few weeks they will require another shift. They should not be overpotted, but instead assisted by manure water. The pots should be placed in a light pit near the roof glass. The summer-flowering kinds will soon begin blooming, but the autumn and winter flowering sorts should be kept growing on in a temperature of from 55° to 60° by night, with a few degrees more in the day. The tuberous-rooted sorts require to be kept at rest in winter, in a medium temperature, almost but not quite dry. In February they should be potted in a compost of sandy loam and leaf-mould, and placed in a temperate pit until May or June, when they may be moved to the greenhouse for flowering. If they afterwards get at all pot-bound, weak manure should be applied. After blooming, the supply of water must be again slackened; in winter the plants should be stored in a dry place secure from frost; they are increased by late summer and autumn cuttings, after being partially cut down.

BEGUINES (Fr. béguine, Med. Lat. beguina, begina, beghina), at the present time the name of the members of certain lay sisterhoods established in the Netherlands and Germany, the enclosed district within which they live being known as a beguinage (Lat. beginagium). The equivalent male communities, called also Beguines (Fr. béguins, Lat. beguiní), but more usually Beghards (Lat. baghardi, beggardi, begehardi, &c., O. Fr. bégard-t, Flem. beggaert), have long ceased to exist. The origin of the names Beguine and Beghard has been the subject of much controversy. In the 15th century a legend arose that both name and organization were traceable to St Begga, daughter of Pippin of Landen, who consequently in 1630 was chosen by the Beguines as the patron saint of their association. In 1630 a professor of Louvain, Erycius Puteanus (van Putte), published a treatise, De Begginarum apud Belgas instituto et nomine suffragium, in which he produced three documents purporting to date from the 11th and 12th centuries, which seemed conclusively to prove that the Beguines existed long before Lambert le Bègue. For two centuries these were accepted as genuine and are admitted as such even in the monumental work of Mosheim. In 1843, however, they were conclusively proved by the German scholar Hallmann, from internal evidence, to be forgeries of the 14th and 15th centuries. It is now universally admitted that both the institution and the name of the Beguines are derived from Lambert le Bègue, who died about the year 1187. The confusion caused by the spurious documents of Puteanus, however, led, even when the legend of St Begga was rejected, to other suggestions for the derivation of the name, e.g. from an imaginary old Saxon word beggen, “to beg” or “pray,” an explanation adopted even by Mosheim, or from bègue, “stammering,” a French word of unknown origin, which only brings us back to Lambert again, whose name of Le Bègue, as the chronicler Aegidius, a monk of Orval (Aureae Vallis), tells us, simply means “the stammerer,” quia balbus erat (Gesta pontificum Leodiensium, c. A.D. 1251). Doubtless this coincidence gave a ready handle to the scoffing wits of the time, and among the numerous popular names given to the Beghards—bons garçons, boni pueri, boni valeti and the like—we find also that of Lollards (from Flemish löllen, “to stammer”).

About the year 1170 Lambert le Bègue, a priest of Liége, who had devoted his fortune to founding the hospital and church of St Christopher for the widows and children of crusaders, conceived the idea of establishing an association of women, who,